PA Lawmakers Depart Capitol, Leave Bills Hanging

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Advocates for a Protection From Abuse Order-strengthening bill express their dismay after the House recesses for the summer without voting on it. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – After a final Monday session to tie up loose ends, the state House of Representatives has recessed for the summer until further notice, leaving some high-profile bills still-unfinished.

One of the measures in question would make it harder for domestic abusers to possess weapons. Another that would overhaul the commonwealth’s redistricting process.

The domestic violence bill has bipartisan support, and would require people under protection from abuse orders turn over their weapons more quickly, plus make those weapons harder to reclaim.

Bill sponsor and Bucks County Republican Marguerite Quinn said she expected a vote before the recess. But a negative letter from the group Firearm Owners Against Crime may have derailed things.

“They came out opposed to the bill,” she said. “I would say that they were inaccurate.”

Still, House leaders have said the bill will come back up in a few months.

“I’m confident that I’ll be standing here in the fall thanking people for their vote, and saying it’s about darn time,” Quinn said.

Leaders are less optimistic, however, about the measure to change the commonwealth’s redistricting process.

Members have buried it under more than 700 amendments–and House GOP Spokesman Steve Miskin said there’s not much time to dig it out before the July 6th deadline.

“Are we going to be able to get, you know, a chunk of these amendments taken off and actually be serious? We’ll see,” Miskin said.

If the bill were to pass after the deadline, it wouldn’t be able to take effect before the next legislative redistricting process in 2021. The undertakings only happen once per decade.

The version of the bill that passed the Senate would have created a commission of citizens to draw legislative maps–giving politicians less say in the process.

Neither the House nor Senate has a planned return date.

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